In the midst of the pre-dawn darkness, 4:30 a.m., I am startled awake by the sound of the first of five daily calls to prayer echoing from the minarets of the multiple surrounding mosques. This was my experience over the two weeks of Christmas break as we were immersed in the culture, traditions and religious practices of a foreign country during our Christmas visit with family.
Through our brief exposure to this culture, including conversations with family and new friends, we learned more about a religion that seems primarily defined by rules and the burden of a performance-based weighing of whether or not one’s actions have made an individual worthy of ultimate redemption.
Upon reflection of this recent experience, I am left with a heart of thankfulness that our salvation is not based on whether or not we have been found worthy through our own performance but rather, “because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast,” Ephesians 2:4-5, 6-8 (NIV).
Verses in Matthew 11 also frequently came to mind, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” vs. 28-30 (NIV).
Accepting a yoke indicates a willingness to be submissive and teachable to the one to whom you are yoked. This is easily illustrated in farming terms as a younger ox may be yoked to an older and wiser ox in such a manner that the younger learns from the older.
Each one of us chooses to be yoked to something every day. Jesus issues an invitation to accept His yoke and learn from a gentle and humble teacher. As we enter the New Year 2020, I pray that this is a year that finds you yoked closely to the One Who has given His life for your redemption in the ultimate act of grace. He longs to be our Teacher, transforming us more into His image. To whom or what will you choose to be yoked?